Beyond the fortified wines of Portugal, like Port and Madeira, there are many delicious wines made in that country. Some of the label terms may be hard to decipher, so here we have compiled some of the more-common wine terms you may encounter on bottles of wine from Portugal.
Adega is the term for winery.
Branco indicates a white wine.
Bruto indicates that the wine is dry.
Casa is the house or wine producer.
Casta is the word corresponding to the term grape variety.
Colheita is the vintage year corresponding to the year the grapes were harvested.
Doce would indicate that the wine is sweet.
Espumante is the notation for a sparkling wine.
Garrafeira is a reserva red wine, aged for at least two years in a barrel, and then one year in the bottle, before released for sale. If the wine is a white wine, it is aged at least six months in barrel, and six months in a bottle.
Lagar is a good-sized fermentation vat that is fairly shallow, and is make off granite, marble, concrete, or stainless steel. In a lagar, wine grapes are trodden by foot or mechanically, by what appears to be artificial feet. Foot trodding extracts lots of color from the skins but is gentle enough not to rupture the seeds and cause bitterness.
Produzido Por indicates that the wine was produced for the name that follows this term.
Quinta means a country estate—especially one that is a vineyard—and is used to express that the grapes are estate-grown. This term is often used like the French term Château.
Reserva: means that the wine is of superior quality wine, from a single vintage.
Tambor is the Portuguese term for barrel.
Tinto indicates that a wine is red.
Verde translates as green. Wines labelled as Vinho Verde mean that it is made from grapes harvested early (“green”), which yields a zippy fresh wine.
Vinha is the term for a vineyard.
Vinho is the Portuguese word for wine. It can also be used to describe a table wine that is one that doesn’t have a designation.
Vinho generoso is a term for a fortified wine like Port, Madeira, or Moscatel.
For this weekend’s tastings at City Vino on August 27 and August 28 we will be featuring four wines from Portugal. The first wine is the 2020 Quinta da Raza Padeiro Dom Diogo Vinho Verde Rosa, from Minho, Portugal. The grapes are from the estate vineyard of Quinta da Raza. The grape is Padeiro, and the wine is made in the Vinho Verde style. Padeiro is a red grape so that makes this young, zippy wine a rosé.
The second wine also hails from the estate of Quita de Raza, and is the 2020 Vinho Verde Pet-Nat Rosé. Again, this rosé wine is made from an early harvest (Vinho Verde), and is a blend of juice from two red grapes—Padeiro and Vinhão.
Our third wine is from Quinta da Boeira, and is the 2020 Doc Douro Branco. The term Branco is a term for white wine, and this one is a blend of 40 percent Málvasia, 30 percent Rabigato, 20 percent Gouveio, and 10 percent Fernão Pires. Portugal is home to many indigenous grapes, and their wines reflect that.
The last wine is also from Quinta de Boeira, and is the 2018 Douro Tinto. The term Tinto is a term used for red wine, and this one is a blend of 45 percent Touriga Nacional, 30 percent Touriga Franca, and 15 percent Tinta Roriz. Tinta Roriz is the Portuguese name for the familiar Spanish grape Tempranillo. Yes, the Douro Valley makes wine that is not fermented, and just normal still wine. In this dry, red format you taste it from a different angle, showing off the complexity in a complex, new way.
Quinta de Boreia also make a most fabulous White Diamond Port. It is a non-vintage wine that is a blend of Malvasia Fina, Viosinho, Gouveio, and Côdega de Larinho. The grapes started fermentation in stainless steel, and that fermentation was stopped by the addition of a neutral spirit. It was then aged in oak barrels for four to six years.